Monday, October 04, 2010

In Memoriam: Damon Runyon

It's a long way from Manhattan to Manhattan, especially when the former is in Kansas and the latter is in New York; it's even longer when, like Damon Runyon, you get there via Pueblo, Colorado - which means you've been going in the wrong direction altogether!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketArriving in New York City in 1910 gave Runyon unique access to a subculture that was then beginning to form on and around Broadway; comprised of equal parts theatrical types and thugs, he proceeded to memorialize his acquaintances as the most theatrical of thugs.

The greatest of these were eventually given immortality in a show called Guys and Dolls, first on the very street that had given them life in 1950, and then in a film version from 1955.

Alas, he never lived to see it, as he died in December 1946.

Runyon, born this day in 1884, was the very picture of a hard-bitten journalist from the era. He is credited with revolutionizing the coverage of baseball (for which he was even elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967), wrote the story of FDR's first inaugural in 1933 for the United Press himself, and is even said to have dubbed boxer James J. Braddock the Cinderella Man.

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